A Mesmerising Performance Of Britten's War Requiem By English National Opera

War Requiem by Benjamin Britten, English National Opera ★★★★★

A Mesmerising Performance Of Britten's War Requiem By English National Opera War Requiem by Benjamin Britten, English National Opera 5
Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem was an instant success when first performed in 1962. This year, to mark the centenary of the end of the first world war, there will be countless performances of the piece across the country. However, it’s difficult to imagine any of these rivalling the spectacle and power of Daniel Kramer’s ENO version — the first full staging of this choral work in the UK.

Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

Britten’s requiem is unique, inspired and complex. Setting the poems of Wilfred Owen to the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead does not always make for an easy listen, but given the subject matter, nor should it. The score reverberates with fury and torment, yet there are also moments of remarkable tenderness and beauty.

Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

The ENO’s orchestras are on magnificent form. The regular chorus is joined by the recent Porgy and Bess ensemble and child actors. Baritone, Roderick Williams; Tenor, David Butt Philip; and soprano, Emma Bell are impeccable.

Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

Turner-winning photographer Wolfgang Tillmans’ nature-inspired images pan in on the microscopic effects of war, reminding us that renewal always follows destruction.

A humbling and unforgettable evening.

Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

War Requiem by Benjamin Britten, English National Opera, The Coliseum, St Martin's Lane, WC2N 4ES . Tickets £12-£125, until 7 December 2018

Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

Last Updated 19 November 2018